Yellow Marigolds or Cempasúchil or other flowers such as the purple Cockscomb or Mano de León are sold in the markets for decorating altars and gravesites. Sometimes petals are sprinkled to the doorway of the home and on the way to the cemetary to help guide the returning souls.
The smell of the Marigold is strong and is sometimes referred to as the “smell of death”. The Marigold is also associated with Xochiquetzal (soh-chee-ket’-sahl), the Toltec goddess of pre-Columbian times known as the guardian of the graves.
In addition to the purple Cockscombs, other flowers suchs as baby’s breath, white amaryllis, and wild purple orchids are also offered. These flowers are known as the “flowers of the souls”.
In some towns, flower wreaths, known as “wreaths of memory” are placed at the head and foot of the grave.